Unverified both answers and raises important questions.
The much-awaited documentary on the UNC academic scandal premiers at the Varsity Theater Friday night in a private showing. Chapelboro obtained an advance copy from cereator and former UNC athletic tutor Bradley Bethel, and for anyone who loves this university, it is a riveting 90-minute watch that is a must-see.
It deals primarily with the many nuances of the complicated, four-year ordeal. Nuances that Bethel says were largely ignored by the media chasing a sexy, juicy story and did not want to be deterred by the details. Those details, according to Bethel’s own narrative, were also covered up by the university in trying to place the blame on athletics and, in the process, fired scape-goated athletic tutors Beth Bridger and Jaimie Lee, who were Bethel’s colleagues.
The turning point of the documentary is when Journalism professor Adam Hochberg challenges Bethel’s assertion that Bridger and Lee were fired by the slanted media coverage and information in the infamous Wainstein Report. Bethel could have cut that interview since Hochberg seemed to have checkmated his theory. But, actually, it gave Bethel the impetus to go back, dig deeper and report that Bridger and Lee were fired without due process, purely on implication by Wainstein, who made more than $3 million from UNC for his work.
Bethel’s crusade to vindicate his colleagues sometimes overshadows the main accusation of the movie – that the Wainstein Report was commissioned and carefully written to shift responsibility away from the university, as whole, and back on the athletic department. And his charge is aided by Chancellor Carol Folt’s refusal to grant Bethel an interview and former UNC President Tom Ross never responding to his request.
The chancellor, athletic director and football coach at the time all departed, but more because they were the men in charge than proven complicit in any wrong-doing. Since then, the athletic department has skillfully contested the resulting NCAA Notice of Allegations to the point where the biggest penalty could still go to the university for lack of institutional control.
Though Bethel’s work would not have helped lead to that conclusion, it would further support Unverified as having the story more right than wrong. Go see it for yourself.http://chapelboro.com/columns/sports-notebook/chanskys-notebook-unverified-riveting
Beyond the wins and losses, beyond the performance on the field, big-time college athletics is also a major economic driver – not just for the university, but for the community as well.
What is the economic and social impact of college athletics? What would Franklin Street be like without it?
UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School professor Deborah Stroman engaged those questions at a talk entitled “The Business of Sport: Opportunities for Relationships and Revenue,” hosted by UNC on Saturday in conjunction with that afternoon’s football game. (It was the first in a series: UNC is hosting a “Tar Heel Tailgate Talk” ahead of every home game this year.)
Among the findings she highlighted:
But that’s only the economic impact. Nelson Mandela famously said that “Sport has the power to change the world,” and Stroman says she believes that sports are capable of bringing people together, forging bonds of solidarity, overcoming differences, and inspiring people to learn, to strive, to achieve, and to become better people…
…if, that is, we take advantage of that power. (Stroman says we can do a much better job than we’re doing today.)
Deborah Stroman spoke with WCHL’s Aaron Keck on Monday.
For four years now, the controversy over paper classes at UNC has provided journalists with ample material for a dramatic narrative of athletics corruption. Ten investigations have no doubt yielded troubling findings, but the news media and anti-athletics crusaders have chosen to highlight only the findings that create the most sensationalized version of events.
The selective reading began when UNC professor Jay Smith and N&O executive editor John Drescher lambasted former Governor Jim Martin after one of the 15 critical findings from his investigation was retracted. Martin had claimed that an Athletics official had informed faculty about the paper classes, but faculty testimony later contradicted that claim. Both Smith and Drescher argued that if no one outside Athletics knew about the classes, then clearly Athletics was primarily, if not exclusively, to blame.
Yet the N&O and others clamoring about Athletics corruption at UNC seem to have forgotten that argument. Perhaps the most overlooked fact uncovered by the Wainstein investigation is that Senior Associate Dean Bobbie Owen admitted that an athletics official informed her about the paper classes and that her response was to assure him faculty members have the academic freedom to conduct their classes as such. Wainstein also discovered that the associate dean who directly supervised the head of the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes knew about the classes and even referred students to them. Moreover, I know from interviewing former staff members that that associate dean, like Bobbie Owen, assured them the classes were a matter of academic freedom.
In other words, Athletics and Academic Support officials did inform College administrators about the paper classes, and those administrators affirmed the classes’ legitimacy.
Furthermore, the Wainstein Report, though containing many facts that were previously unknown, also contains judgements that extend beyond what the facts support. For example, Wainstein alleges that several academic counselors knew about every aspect of the paper classes. Yet he provides no evidence demonstrating the counselors knew Deborah Crowder was managing the classes without department chair Julius Nyang’oro’s supervision. I have interviewed the counselors, and they believed Crowder was acting under Nyang’oro’s direction, and, remember, they were told by the deans that he had the academic freedom to determine the format of his classes. Wainstein’s allegation, therefore, is false.
Fortunately, the NCAA did not accept the Wainstein Report wholesale. Although the NCAA alleges lack of institutional control, the NCAA ascribes most of the blame to the College of Arts & Sciences.
To date, the most damning findings connecting Athletics to the paper-class scandal are that two academic counselors suggested some grades for athletes, and that one of those academic counselors also provided improper assistance on some papers. After 10 investigations, no coaches and no Athletics administrators were found colluding with Crowder and Nyang’oro, and only two academic counselors were found crossing a line on limited occasions.
The paper classes make for an embarrassing chapter in UNC’s history, but they do not make for an athletics-driven scandal. They were conducted by a misguided department chair and his secretary who tried in the wrong way to help struggling students, and the classes were allowed to persist by a negligent College administration. If the paper classes were the result of any systemic problem, it was the system that allows research universities to treat teaching quality as an afterthought.
However, a story about neglecting teaching quality would not sell as many newspapers or attract as many clicks as the sensationalized drama of athletics corruption.http://chapelboro.com/columns/the-commentators/not-an-athletics-driven-scandal
When the NCAA leveled devastating penalties on the Penn State football program in 2012, the NCAA also declared Penn State football players would be permitted to transfer without the NCAA’s standard transfer restrictions. Onlookers expected a massive exodus of players, but that exodus never happened. Some players left, but the Penn State coaching staff was able to retain most.
The same cannot be said for the UNC women’s basketball staff, and they haven’t even received NCAA penalties yet.
Head Coach Sylvia Hatchell’s contract extends three more years, to 2018. Three other UNC coaches, including women’s lacrosse coach Jenny Levy, received contract extensions earlier this summer, but Hatchell did not. Her supporters and other commentators have subsequently claimed UNC is denying her an extension because they are scapegoating her for the paper-class scandal.
Yet those supporters and commentators overlook the fact that women’s basketball appears to be losing the entirety of its heralded 2013 recruiting class.
Of the four players from that class, we only know second-hand that one of them chose to leave for reasons related to the scandal. However, having worked with women’s basketball players while I was a learning specialist at UNC, I know that some of them were never quite content at UNC since the assistant coach who recruited them decided to leave before their first year. A number of players never felt as connected to the remaining coaches.
No one from UNC Athletics has blamed Hatchell and her staff for the paper-class scandal, and no one should. Neither Hatchell nor any coach at UNC was involved in creating or perpetuating the paper classes. The argument that UNC is scapegoating Hatchell is both a misguided attempt by her supporters to shame Athletics Director Bubba Cunningham into granting her an extension, and an intellectually dishonest ploy by anti-athletics crusaders who want to see men’s basketball and football take all the blame.
Hatchell deservedly has had former players publicly support her. From what I know of her, she has been an honorable and successful coach for many years. However, the players whose support matters most are those who will be playing for other schools next year.http://chapelboro.com/columns/the-commentators/no-one-scapegoating-hatchell
Editor’s note: Art Chansky’s Sports Notebook on July 14th was about UNC Coach Sylvia Hatchell. Chansky followed with a longer Art’s Angle on the subject of Coach Hatchell on July 15th. The commentary below is from Mary Willingham and Jay Smith of paperclassinc.com, and was published to their blog on July 16th, but only in response to the July 14th Sports Notebook. On July 20th, Art Chansky shared his answer to their blog post in a Sports Notebook. Mary Willingham’s commentary can be heard on WCHL in an abbreviated version on July 21st. Below is the full version.
In a recent commentary on WCHL, ardent UNC sports fan Art Chansky revealed his strategy for combating the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations [NOA] against the university’s athletic program: Blame it on the women! Complaining of women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell’s (alleged) behind-the-scenes efforts to lobby for a contract extension comparable to the one recently offered men’s coach Roy Williams, Chansky griped that “an exit strategy should be [Hatchell’s’] play.” After all, Chansky claimed, “Hatchell’s program is in the most serious trouble from the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations,” given the high profile of women’s academic counselor Jan Boxill in the email documentation provided in the NCAA report. The whole NCAA investigation is a “witch hunt” with many victims, Chansky suggested, but the uncomfortable reality for women’s basketball is that “[Roy] Williams’ program was not cited in the NOA and Hatchell’s was.” Hatchell should therefore prepare herself to leave UNC “with grace.”
The propaganda purposes of this particular commentary are obvious even by Chansky’s standards. No team is “cited” in the NOA if by cited one means singled out for likely punishment. As a team and as a program, women’s basketball is cited in the NCAA document no more and no less than any other team or program. (The NCAA’s NOA did note, however, that the “special arrangements” used for eligibility purposes at UNC had particularly benefited “the sports of football, men’s basketball, and women’s basketball.”) Chansky, in other words, is only continuing and amplifying the PR drumbeat that Roy Williams, Larry Fedora and others began some weeks ago, presumably at the urging of university lawyers. They have repeatedly announced that the big-time men’s revenue sports would seem to be in the clear and should expect no further punishment from the NCAA. They would have us believe that the NCAA is prepared to give football and men’s basketball a free pass even after the exposure of decades’ worth of fraud that clearly benefited the football and men’s basketball teams. And they are evidently all too happy to point the finger of blame in the direction of a women’s team in order to lower expectations about the sanctions likely to be imposed on the men’s teams.
Leaving aside the gender politics of this shameless PR strategy–will advocates for women’s sports stand by while male coaches, boosters, and UNC insiders labor to persuade the NCAA that the Crowder-Nyang’oro scheme was merely a big plot to help women?–Chansky and company face one very high hurdle in pursuit of their propaganda campaign. A mountain of direct and circumstantial evidence makes clear that UNC’s distinctive pattern of academic fraud was developed specifically to meet the needs of the men’s basketball team, and that the corruption reached its highest levels on Roy Williams’s watch. The first suspect independent study courses offered by Julius Nyang’oro in the late 1980s were offered to men’s basketball players, some of whom had abysmal SAT scores and perilously low GPA’s before they met professor Nyang’oro. Faculty friends in geography, French, and the school of education had been very helpful to the team throughout the 1980s. But when leadership of the AFRI/AFAM department fell into the laps of two allies of men’s basketball around 1990–Nyang’oro and his assistant Debby Crowder, whose close friend Burgess McSwain served as academic counselor for the men in her remote Smith center office–that department quickly became the go-to academic center for struggling (or academically uninterested) men’s basketball players. The fraud would morph into a multi-team and three thousand-student debacle before all was said and done, but men’s basketball was always first in line for favors and fake classes. The needs of men’s basketball always came first in the eyes of Debby Crowder. And the 2005 men’s team, whose roster was stocked with players for whom both McSwain and Crowder felt great sympathy, benefited from unprecedented levels of favoritism. The team as a whole took well over one hundred paper classes; as one would expect, the starters on that team benefited disproportionately from the scam. Star forward Rashad McCants has had the guts to admit this publicly and to show the evidence of the fraud in his own student transcript. His teammates, though quick to denounce him, have kept their transcripts hidden. It is unlikely that anyone else from that team–Sean May, Raymond Felton, Jawad Williams, Marvin Williams, Reyshawn Terry, Jesse Holley, etc.–will ever step forward with transcripts in hand to have a frank conversation about their classroom experiences. But the truth is in those transcripts.
Chansky, Williams, and the friends of men’s basketball would have the world believe that twenty years of bogus class scheduling was done without the knowledge of anyone actually connected to the men’s basketball program. Coaches (who are paid millions to know everything) supposedly knew nothing. The only academic counselor who was knowingly, inexcusably corrupt, they say, was philosophy instructor Jan Boxill, counselor for the women’s basketball team. This “powerful” figure, they say, corrupted women’s basketball of her own volition. Thankfully, all other counselors were innocent–even if it is unfortunate that they failed to detect the shenanigans of Crowder and Boxill.
The layers of absurdity in this line of argument become hard to distinguish. One might start, however, with the simple fact that Jan Boxill, whatever her flaws, was far more vulnerable than powerful. She was an untenured instructor whose employment at UNC was always partially contingent on her services to the athletic program. She was a highly valuable cog in the machine because of her go-between status and her ability to negotiate academic protocols for counselors who were physically segregated from the main arteries of the campus. But her great value also increased her vulnerability. She was pressured constantly by other personnel in the Academic Support Program to call in favors, to make phone calls, to ask for benefits that were “needed” by athletes with low GPA’s, travel commitments, or other handicaps.
Among the people who leaned heavily on Jan Boxill were the counselors for men’s basketball–first McSwain and then Wayne Walden, Roy Williams’s handpicked deputy who followed him to Chapel Hill from Kansas in 2003. When Roy Williams touts Walden’s ethics, he is not just blowing smoke. Walden was a decent guy who worked within a system that had been built long before he arrived. (Where is he now? Why won’t he and the other counselors step forward to tell their stories?) Walden had a conscience, and he was not happy to have to resort to “paper classes” and wink-wink independent studies courses to help keep certain players afloat. But he also knew what had to be done when push came to shove. Mary Willingham and Wayne Walden spent countless hours together in the old east end zone building talking about how difficult it was to keep challenged players eligible, and how much harder it was to navigate the UNC curriculum in comparison to the Kansas curriculum. (Thank the heavens for Debby Crowder and the few friendly faculty out there…) The course selection process they managed was never about offering players a world-class education; Willingham and Walden worked together–quite often with Boxill’s help, even more often with Crowder’s help–to keep basketball players eligible and in school. They were quite good at it, though Walden was constantly worried about getting Jan or Debby in trouble by asking for favors that would raise red flags. (One reason Boxill had so many emails to be plundered by Kenneth Wainstein and the NCAA: she worked in an office in Caldwell Hall, distant from the ASPSA. Deals, trouble-shooting, and schedule-engineering that were done face-to-face in the ASPSA had to be done through email whenever Boxill was involved. Conveniently for certain other key players in the drama, Boxill’s email was on the main UNC server rather than on the athletic server; her emails could not be expunged.)
Roy Williams has tried to take credit for steering players away from AFAM in 2006-7 (even as he disavows any knowledge of funny business in that department.) But the fact is, the transcripts of the 2009 national championship men’s team look different–with some but far fewer paper classes–only because a new fear of getting caught had set in around 2006. Remember the Auburn scandal and the panic it seems to have caused among ASPSA officials, the Faculty Athletics Committee, and Dean Bobbi Owen (who decreed that the numbers of AFAM independent studies had to be sharply reduced)? The upshot of the Auburn scandal, in the UNC men’s basketball program, was a new caution about cheating. The large-scale, team-wide stuff had to end. Paper classes, Walden decided, should be used only for the athletes who desperately needed them – such as the one guy who “couldn’t read very well.” That particular player, whose needs forged a particularly close relationship between Walden and Willingham (a reading specialist), took between ten and twelve paper classes. That figure–compiled in the years after Roy Williams claims that he cleaned up the basketball program–is significantly higher than the number of paper classes ever taken by ANY women’s basketball player. The number of AFAM majors on the men’s basketball team may have dropped off after 2005, but the need for paper classes remained (for both current and former players), and men’s basketball stayed at the front of the line at least through 2008.
Art Chansky and company are desperately trying to persuade the NCAA and the public at large that UNC’s course fraud scam was all about helping the women’s basketball team. Chansky urges Sylvia Hatchell to play sacrificial lamb for a UNC athletic department that benefited broadly and egregiously from academic fraud that unfolded over twenty years. The NCAA has all the emails, with all the unredacted names, and so one can assume that the Committee on Infractions will be able to hold up against the propaganda winds. But regardless of what the NCAA does or does not do, people of good conscience in and around UNC must not allow the dreams of Chansky, Williams, and Fedora to come true. Collective amnesia is not an option in Chapel Hill. Owning the reality of the scandal is important because only after accepting the true dynamic of the academic-athletic scandal–only after Tar Heels have come to terms with the fact that our love of men’s basketball and our passionate commitment to winning fostered an uncontrollably corrupt academic environment here–will the institution be able to move on with open eyes, a clean conscience, and a healthy plan for the future.
Chansky asks Hatchell to leave with “grace.” But grace has never been about willful blindness, nor should it be about taking one for the team. “Was blind but now I see,” goes the beloved lyric. Those touched by grace are not asked to go into exile; they are reconciled to a higher power and beckoned to a welcoming place (“grace will lead me home.”). Asking Sylvia Hatchell to go away is not the answer to UNC’s disgrace. The institution should instead be asking for its own gift of grace—the gift of clear-sighted reconciliation with the sins of its past.http://chapelboro.com/columns/the-commentators/earth-to-art-chansky-it-wasnt-about-the-women
Hiring Sylvia Crawley as an assistant coach is the right play for Sylvia Hatchell. Getting her friends and colleagues in the university to lobby for an extension to her contract is the wrong play.
Crawley, a star player and captain of the 1994 Tar Heels, will be seen by many people as Hatchell’s successor after she resigns following the 2016 season or is fired. Hatchell cannot survive as the Carolina coach for reasons that go beyond her program’s complicity in the NCAA allegations.
That first. Her support group calling women’s basketball a “sacrificial lamb” is ill-advised, some would say stupid. Anyone who reads the Notice of Allegations can see where Hatchell’s program is cited through the actions of former academic advisor Jan Boxill, the long-respected faculty member who was fired for her role in the AFAM scandal. Beyond the substantial fine the university will receive for a “lack of institutional control,” women’s basketball is the sport most likely to be penalized. One of the five allegations is entirely devoted to emails between Boxill and the AFAM department. If so, Hatchell will be held accountable as the CEO of the program.
Just as Butch Davis was fired for, among other things, violating his contract by hiring a coach (John Blake) who broke NCAA rules. UNC firing Davis “without cause” and paying him the balance of his contract worth between $11 and 12 million seemed foolish, but the university did not want to invest the time and legal fees to defend a prolonged lawsuit that Davis surely would have filed. Any Carolina coach whose program breaks NCAA rules, including Roy Williams, should be and would be fired.
Second, the collateral damage from the NCAA probe that has injured almost every Tar Heel sports team in recruiting has just about killed women’s hoops. Hatchell has lost the No. 1 recruiting class of 2013 — from Diamond DeShields transferring to Tennessee after her All-ACC freshman season to Jessica Washington, Allisha Gray and Stephanie Mavunga leaving this summer. Only Gray acknowledged that the stigma of the NCAA investigation caused her departure, but surely Washington and Mavunga feel the same way. These women worry that their association with a tainted team will hurt their professional careers, in and out of basketball, moving forward.
Clearly, Hatchell’s program has become fatally flawed and a change must be made to start over. Hatchell is a Hall of Fame coach who has won a national championship (1994) and more than 900 games. She also won her courageous battle against Leukemia that kept her off the bench during the 2014 season. She has been a great representative of the university until the NCAA revelations that have divided the campus and caused fractures in the athletic department itself.
Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham must negotiate an athletic program, 98 percent of which still operates and succeeds at the highest level, through the awful hand he was dealt when he took over for Dick Baddour in November of 2011. Aware he was inheriting the three-year probation in football for impermissible benefits during the Davis era, Cunningham said recently that he had not heard the acronym “AFAM” until a few months into his job.
The Rams Club continues to raise money at record levels, proving an angry alumni and fan base has not deserted the program, but by charter can only pay for scholarships and capital improvements. Cunningham is stuck with about an $80 million operating budget with most of its revenue streams maxed out. Sure, UNC gets an occasional windfall from additional post-season payouts from the ACC, but not enough to increase salaries and recruiting budgets for all but two of UNC’s 28 sports that do not make money.
When revenues are flat, expenses need to be cut. Cunningham and UNC are committed, for now, to a broad-based program driven by participation for as many varsity athletes as possible. But that will have to change one day. Current Title IX guidelines dictate any sport cut will be on the men’s side, and Cunningham has an opportunity to start by dropping the struggling wrestling program after he recently fired veteran coach and former Tar Heel All-American C.D. Mock. Wrestling gives out all 9.9 scholarships allowed by the NCAA, so that could save some money for the Rams Club. Also, coaches’ salaries and recruiting and travel costs would be eliminated from Bubba’s budget. Wrestling could still be offered as a club sport, where UNC’s program is among the biggest and most successful in the country.
Women’s basketball loses more money than any sport at Carolina. Hatchell earns about a million dollars from her state salary, stipends and her successful summer camp. The team draws sparse crowds to revamped Carmichael Arena, employs eight assistant coaches or support personnel and has significant recruiting and travel budgets. UNC has a “cost per athlete” metric computed by revenues versus expenses divided by the number of players on a team. While losing about $2.5 million a year, Hatchell’s program has the highest cost-per-athlete of all women sports and one of the highest of all 28 teams.
Surely, UNC can play competitive women’s basketball for half the cost. The money saved could be spread across all other women’s sports, increasing subpar coaching salaries and recruiting budgets in most of them. It is truly amazing that Carolina athletics continues to finish high in the Learfield Director’s Cup (fifth in 2014-15) with an operating budget far behind schools like Stanford, Ohio State and Texas.
Changes are on the way. They need to include women’s basketball where, after one season as Hatchell’s well-traveled and accomplished assistant, Crawley becomes the new face of the program. She has already held three head-coaching positions and is respected in the profession. Her charge would be to rebuild the Lady Tar Heels for less than what it has cost UNC, monetarily and otherwise, under Hatchell.http://chapelboro.com/columns/sports-notebook/arts-angle-hatchell-should-go-gracefully
Current and former Tar Heel athletes are in the spotlight this month, competing at the Pan American Games in Toronto.
On Sunday, former UNC swimming star Chip Peterson won gold in the men’s 10-K open water race, beating out fellow USA teammate David Heron by four seconds. That’s his second gold medal at the Pan-American Games – he also won one back in 2007, when he was still a student at Carolina. Peterson is a 2010 alum; he’s currently an assistant coach at UNC.
Meanwhile, field hockey competition got underway on Monday, and Team USA is loaded with Tar Heels: five in all, on a roster with only 16 players. Jackie Briggs, Rachel Dawson, Katelyn Falgowski, Kelsey Kolojejchick and Emily Wold are all on the roster, with UNC alum Caitlin Van Sickle as an alternate. The US beat Uruguay 5-0 on Monday in the first match of pool play; Falgowski and Kolojejchick both scored goals.
Team USA faces Chile on Wednesday and Cuba on Friday before the knockout rounds next week.
The U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) will be bestowing an annual award that honors the late Dean Smith given “to an individual in college basketball who embodies the spirit and values represented by Smith,” according to the official release Wednesday.
What a marvelous idea, akin to what has been proposed by various people since Smith retired in 1997. UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham told Media Relations Director Steve Kirschner two years ago that such an award should be initiated. Sports Information Director Emeritus Rick Brewer, perhaps the closest person to Smith outside his personal and basketball families, suggested it to sportswriter and former USBWA president John Feinstein at the 2015 ACC Tournament.
When brought up at the organization’s next meeting, it passed “in 30 seconds,” according to current President Pat Forde, who with Feinstein and ESPN.com columnist Dana O’Neil were in Chapel Hill Wednesday to make the announcement. The USBWA has since worked with Kirschner, Cunningham and the Smith family to frame out the parameters of the award that can go to a coach, non-coach, presumably a former player, “both male and female, from all divisions of the NCAA and NAIA.”
There was a lot of joy and sincere sentiment at the press conference, also attended by Smith’s widow Linnea and son Scott. There was also a touch of hypocrisy.
Apparently, any writer with a regular column in print or on-line who pays dues can join the USBWA, which has had hundreds of members since being founded in 1956 and names an All-American Team each year and also gives out annual national awards for Player of the Year, Coach of the Year and Courage.
The USBWA has no control over what its members write, and many of them have had UNC in their gun sights for years over the academic scandal. Some have refused to believe the scandal is an aberration of what was long hailed as a model athletic program, the problem started in the old African American Studies (AFAM) department and was taken advantage of by a relatively small percentage of Tar Heel athletes over an 18-year span.
Forde has been one of Carolina’s harshest critics, banging out columns with sweeping accusations and indictments, suggesting that UNC might before due process self-impose penalties like vacating a national title. He was the headline subject of one Tar Heel blog entitled, Pat Forde Can’t Stop Talking About North Carolina’s Academic Scandal. In that piece, Forde said of Marcus Paige, the Academic Player of the Year in college basketball:
“And the brainiac junior also is tasked with being the erudite face of a program that has become a national laughingstock because of an 18-year academic scandal that undercut the school’s previously strong reputation.”
At the time of Forde’s quote, “an 18-year scandal” went back to 1996-97, when Smith was still coaching the Tar Heels. So Forde was asked if getting behind the Dean Smith Award somehow exonerates the Hall of Fame coach from any involvement in the eyes of the USBWA.
“This is independent from the scandal,” Forde said. “It is everything Dean did away from basketball.”
Asked again if this particular honor absolves Smith and we may never see his name mentioned in another story about the scandal (after this one), Forde said, “We wouldn’t put Dean Smith’s name on an award if we did not feel his character deserved it.”
Frankly, the rush to judgment from the ABC posters is to be expected. But from an organization of the best basketball writers in the world, well, that speaks to the sometimes unhealthy competition of the 24-hour news cycle. And it isn’t likely to stop whether the NCAA throws the Tar Heels in jail or says it’s “all good” and let’s P.J. Hairston come back and play his last two years. Either way, the reactions will be strong.
What the scribes say about Carolina Basketball, good and bad, will always go back to Dean Smith because he took a team in rubbles when no one else wanted the job and created a paradigm that every other program in the country, including Duke, sought to emulate. And now it is coached by one of his deepest disciples, a man who credits everything he knows about life and college basketball to his mentor.
So while UNC and the Smith family should be thrilled about this off-the-court recognition, and its charitable association with their Opening Doors Fund, I am happy it is another step in restoring a reputation that Dean Smith helped build.http://chapelboro.com/columns/sports-notebook/arts-angle-does-honor-absolve-smith
The Tar Heels were able to hold Liberty off in the second half despite the Flames attempt to come back from a 14-point deficit. With a final score of 71-65, North Carolina lives to play another game in the NCAA Tournament.
“I knew it was going to be a tough game because Liberty’s tough and it’s just typical of these first round games that we’ve been seeing in both the men’s and women’s tournaments. So we’re happy for the win and we’re looking forward to playing on Monday night.”
“We fronted the post a lot. That was really a big thing,” Mavunga said. “Also, the on-the-ball defense from the top and the wings… the guards did a really good job mirroring the ball that way they didn’t have a good look so they couldn’t pass it into the post as easily.”
Liberty made a run in the second half and cut Carolina’s 14 point lead to 65-59. Coach Sylvia Hatchell says poor rebounding gave the Flames an opportunity to come back.
“Our rebounding was…. I don’t know what words you could use to describe it… but it was pretty bad. So we have to do a lot better job with that,” Coach Sylvia Hatchell said.
Senior Latifah Coleman scored 15 points—the most she has scored in 2015. Coleman says having Coach Hatchell back this season is emotional for the team.
“Every time we think about the tournament and last year we get filled with emotion. I mean, having Coach Hatchell back is great it’s just more fuel to the fire and there’s more purpose to what we do and why we do it,” Coleman said.
North Carolina plays Ohio State Monday night at Carmichael Arena in the 2nd round of the tournament.
UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham says he and others at the university are looking to find a way to help Ryan Hoffman.
“Your heart goes out to anyone who is homeless and down on their luck,” says Cunningham. “To think that it was a Carolina grad and former football player, it’s just tragic. It’s a sad story.”
The New York Times on Thursday published a profile of Hoffman, a former UNC offensive lineman who is now homeless, living on the streets of Lakeland, Florida.
In the Times piece, Hoffman says he is struggling with cognitive problems that keep him from holding down a job, problems he says stem from his years playing college football in the late 90’s.
Cunningham says there’s an effort underway to bring Hoffman to Chapel Hill to be evaluated by Kevin Guskiewicz, co-director of the Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center at UNC.
“Kevin said ‘I’d love to get him here and provide the services we provide former NFL players and do some testing and see if we can help’,” says Cunningham.
But before that can happen, UNC athletics officials need to clear the plan with the NCAA.
“Part of our process would be, let’s notify our compliance office, let’s have our compliance office communicate with the conference and with the NCAA. That’s from a procedural standpoint,” says Cunningham. “From a human standpoint you just want to do what you can to help somebody, but certainly there are rules you need to follow. So we’re going through those processes.”
Cunningham, along with UNC’s Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Communications Rick Steinbacher, is working out the details. He says they don’t yet have a timeline for action.
In the meantime, a fundraising effort is underway to help Hoffman. You can find out more here: https://my.greatestfan.com/Ryanhoffmanhttp://chapelboro.com/news/unc/unc-reaches-out-to-help-ryan-hoffman